Everyone knows that cigarette smoking is bad for your general health, including your teeth. If you’re a smoker, you’ve probably been told to quit dozens of times. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, might seem like a smoker’s dream come true. Instead of drawing in tobacco smoke, you inhale a vapor-like substance with fewer dangerous toxins. Smoking e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, is so popular as a smoking substitute that cigarette sales are down in record numbers. Unfortunately, there really is no safe vaping, especially when it comes to your oral health.
CLEARING THROUGH THE SMOKE
Instead of inhaling tobacco smoke, those who use e-cigarettes breathe in an aerosol to deliver nicotine to their lungs. Many people think this aerosol is made up of harmless water vapor, but it’s actually composed of millions of fine particles. The substances that make up these particles include a number of toxic chemicals. These chemicals have been linked to heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease.
Vaping instead of smoking doesn’t mean you’ve removed nicotine from your life; in fact, nicotine makes up a large percentage of the aerosol in e-cigarettes. And nicotine is the addictive substance that makes quitting smoking so hard to do. It’s also a carcinogen, which means it’s been known to cause cancer, including:
- Lung cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Breast cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer
While vaping hasn’t been around long enough to be a subject of many health studies, experts who have looked into it have found a connection between vaping and a number of health issues. Early evidence shows that vaping can damage your blood cells, increase your risk of heart disease, lower your immune system, damage your lungs and even affect your DNA.
VAPING AND ORAL HEALTH
You may have eliminated some of the dangers of tobacco smoke by switching to e-cigarettes, but if you’re vaping, you’re still introducing nicotine into your body. And nicotine is not your friend. When it’s first introduced into your body, it restricts your blood flow. This means your gums don’t get the nutrients and oxygen they need to stay strong and healthy. If you think about it, nicotine actually chokes the tissues in your mouth, reducing the oxygen and blood they need. This is how gum tissue begins to die, causing it to start receding.
Dry mouth is a chronic problem for many people, causing bacteria to build up in their mouth and increasing the chance of tooth decay. Nicotine makes this problem worse in people already suffering from dry mouth and causes otherwise healthy people to develop the condition.
If you’re one of the many people suffering from bruxism, or teeth grinding, you know the damage that it can cause your teeth and jaws. As a muscle stimulant, nicotine can make teeth grinding much worse because it causes the muscles in your jaw to become overactive. Even patients who have never had a problem with grinding their teeth can develop the problem after beginning to use e-cigarettes.
Vaping sends nicotine into your body just like cigarettes do, and it can result in the exact same type of dental problems because of it. One of the most common is gum disease, which can cause:
- Irritated, red, and bleeding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Teeth falling out
- Receding gums
E-cigarettes may be billed as a safer alternative to smoking, but they’re clearly still a danger to your oral health. If you’ve switched from cigarettes to vaping, it’s important that you still pay extra attention to your oral hygiene habits to help prevent gum disease and the resultant tooth loss. Lower the nicotine levels in your e-cigarette and work toward quitting completely. In the meantime, see your dental professional for a thorough examination and for advice about caring for your teeth and gums.